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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lamentations

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

How goes your day? I recently read the book of Lamentations. Lamentations is a piece displaying the grief over what happened to Jerusalem at the beginning of Judah's exile. Essentially, the city and temple were destroyed. The writer never shares his name but many think it was written by Jeremiah, one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament.


Over and over the lamentor shares his grief over the destroyed city; asking God to come and bring restoration. There are a few stanzas in the middle that offer hope, but not very many. At this point in time the Jews had little hope. Their brightest had been taken away to be trained for what could be equated to middle management or less. They had no human king with any power and the temple they used to worship God had been destroyed. God had chosen not to intervene during the invasion and even brought the Babylonians because of how they had worshiped idols and not taken there adoption by God seriously.

In one spot the author admits to feeling not just abandoned by God, but betrayed; saying God seems like an enemy. Yet he also recognizes the sin and rebellion of the chosen against God.

I find one thing interesting: God never chides the lamentor. We see no evidence that God is angry at Israel for their expression of grief, even though they had not shown Him the proper respect and had in some ways brought it on themselves. In fact, in the middle of the lament God offers a little hope! He says:
"For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone."  Lamentations 3:31
Sometimes we feel like God is not on our side. When we don't get the job we want or the girl rejects the date or our family member gets extremely ill. We start to question if God is on our side at all. Right here God says: I do not like this stuff! God will respond to our sin and evil, but He will not enjoy doing so.

In our day we do not like to think of God as disciplining us. We want to believe our problems come from other people or simply the course of life. When someone does suggest that God is disciplining us, we get mad about it. Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12 tell us to think of it this way: God disciplines us as a father would his son. No one enjoys the discipline, but it brings fruit in the form of a change of life.

Back to our Old Testament friends, God eventually judged the Babylonians by having another empire conquer them. Then, he led the King there to send men back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the city wall. Hundreds of years later, Christ came to bring full redemption to us.

Our problems are not always discipline, but sometimes they are. When you are struggling, spend some time asking God if He is disciplining you. I don't think He does this very often and either way I think He would love to shower His love and hope and kindness over you. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tuvok's Help or Jesus' Help?

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

A few days ago my Mom and I were watching some Star Trek Voyager. We are slowly going through the series and currently in season 2. One of the episodes we watched was regarding a murder on the ship.

Found at tomdurham.com
As Tuvok was investigating it, he quickly found the evidence and got a confession from the murderer, a man who had been part of the Maquis crew. With all of this completed, something still bugged Tuvok. He could not understand why the man had done this atrocity. All the guy said was that the crewman had looked at him wrong. This troubled Tuvok so much that he actually chose to mind meld with the murderer. As a result of this, the murderer received more ability to control his impulses, but Tuvok was left rather off. Soon, the doctor had to get involved and complete a series of treatments on Tuvoks brain. These treatments left him with none of his mental shields around his emotions. At one point, he almost killed a man.

I found this to be an interesting view of sin. Ever since Adam we have struggled to make sense of a world filled with horrible atrocities. We often find ourselves asking "Why?" just like Tuvok was asking. And just like the Maquis man, we often get caught in sins we are not proud of and need some sort of repression help to deal with them.

Jesus came and spent time with people just like this Maquis man. People who were caught up in sins like drunkenness and non-marital sex. Unlike Tuvok, as Jesus helped them, He didn't fall prey to their sins. Hebrews 4:15 tells us:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
We can get our help from Jesus with no worries. He has experienced temptation and won against it so He is able to lead us. When He was praying in the Gethsemane, He fought against temptation so hard he was sweating blood. To contrast that, his disciples were busy sleeping and not praying. Even after he had encouraged them to "pray so that you will not fall into temptation" (Matthew 26:41). Simply put, we were not there for Him when He both needed us and wanted to help us. We should be there for each other.

Acts quotes Proverbs 27:17 in this:

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
We saw the principal of cooperation and support throughout this episode. The Doctor did all he could to help Tuvok. Captain Janeway was more interested in seeing the murderer be reformed than in seeing him be punished (not that she ignored punishment). The next time you see someone struggling with a sin, be patient with them. If someone comes to you, just pray for them or with them.

No on should be afraid to ask for help dealing with sin. Often our strange Christian/American culture is good at shaming people over sins. Jesus isn't.  He is good at helping. We should follow in His steps. Maybe you need someone to pray for you. Maybe you need someone to bug you from time to time to get you on track.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

From Fiction to Reality and our Response

Well, this year is starting quite interestingly, don't you think? We have had a lot of crazy things going on that could be out of a science fiction story. Real life is truly an epic story so let us consider some crazy things and what our response as Christians should be.

found at siberiantimes.com


1. MORE CRATERS IN RUSSIA!
This is becoming crazy. I don't think it's Galactus because, well, the movie didn't get his operations quite right and I don't see any gear there. I have wondered about Darksied, but he tends to do things rather....visibly. So far no evil underlings from under the Earth have come forward either.

Scientists have some reasonable and plausible ideas for how these are occurring, but they don't actually know for sure yet. It is a little concerning because we don't have a way to predict them so it could happen any time or anywhere.

Our Response: We should appreciate the mystery and support investigations. God told us right from the beginning in Genesis to "till and keep the Earth". It is our job to take care of the bits of creation we get to interact with. Yet, He doesn't choose to give us all details in the Bible. There are somethings we get to figure out ourselves.

2. ISIS
Hey, two "s"s...doesn't that resemble a snakes sound "hissss". Is this the real life Cobra or Venom? Uh...yeah, it kind of is that. ISIS has been taking a lot of ground and some members have reportedly made threats on Rome. They are extremely brutal so they would be more similar to the Cobra in G.I. Joe Resolute. They are not a nation, but an organization or a movement.

Our Response: We need to take this seriously. Be praying for Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lybia, and the other nations threatened by this evil hoard. Also, we need to be showing concern for the thousands of refugees from this. 1 problem that has resulted from this is thousands of orphaned refugee children in Lebanon. Jesus said his goal was to help the needy and the destitute. Right now that includes these refugees. What we do not want to do is fear and in this case that can be really hard. Remember that God the Father will deal with each ISIS member in due time. God does not want us to fear or worry but to cooperate with Him.


Found at www.space-facts.com

3. MARS!
So, this is probably the biggest thing from science fiction to be in the process of becoming science fact. Man is setting his sights from Earth to Mars. Not to look at, but to colonize. Many companies and groups have been pushing for this and one company, Mars One, based in the Netherlands, is now working harder to make it work. They held a big contest on You Tube to find people who were willing to spend their lives on Mars. To move there, possibly starting as soon as 2024!

Our Response: This is probably the most dangerous thing ever attempted by man. Going through space way past our moon. Our response should be "Yes!" God loves adventure. Think about how often God calls people to something crazy. He sent a Jewish man to preach to Nineveh and had a fish swallow him when he went the wrong way. He sent Abraham to walk around the world for a while before settling down. But, we must also be praying. I don't know how many things could turn dangerous with this. We are told to "pray without ceasing" by Paul in Thessalonians.

So there you have it. Life and fiction are closer than we realize. But we must respond with a desire to see God glorified and not be scared or pushed away.